Suburban Assault

New Orleans – A Place To Ride

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I started this as part of a recap for 2015, but as I started writing, I realized there was more to say about New Orleans.

During this past summer, we took our first family vacation in 5 years – a much needed break. This time, we went to New Orleans – close enough to drive, but far enough to feel like we went somewhere. We stayed in an Airbnb in the north side of town, outside of the touristy French Quarter. I discovered that the locals weren’t fans of out-of-town folks staying in their neighborhoods. I overheard one woman in a coffee shop say, “I don’t like them…They’re not invested in the neighborhood…They just park anywhere (parking was awful and extremely limited)…They’re just using it like a hotel room.” As a homeowner, I completely understand how they feel and would probably think the same way if there were some Airbnbs in my neighborhood. However, as a visitor, I highly recommend an Airbnb stay. It’s much better than a hotel room, where we felt like out-of-town guests, instead of tourists. Just try to be respectful and treat each neighborhood as if it were your own.

I brought my bike and I’ll discuss that in a bit. First, I want to give my overall view of New Orleans. Although I’ve been there a few times, it’s always been in the tourist areas, eating lots of touristy foods, drinking lots of touristy booze. Going as a family, we wanted to get a taste of how a local would experience the city – with a little bit of sightseeing in the mix. We drove a lot, and now I have a love/hate relationship with the Google GPS App. Since the streets are extremely confusing to a non-local, the GPS was helpful, until it took us 10 blocks out of our way to get to a place just down the street. Once we were more familiar with the area, we only used it for pre-trip mapping and going the last mile(s). It was funny listening to the voice prompt attempting to pronounce some of the French street names. Dupre was referred to as “Dupper.”

As expected, New Orleans is truly different than my north Texas suburb. If you’ve ever coveted the idea of living in a more dense city infrastructure, you should visit a city like New Orleans. At first, you’ll find yourself complaining about how crowded and overlapped the buildings are, as well as how narrow the streets get with limited parking. But when you settle in, you start to notice how well the people exist around each other, how well transportations syncs and how nearby destinations are actually more of a convenience—because they are actually nearby. I started to view the wide-open space of my suburban sprawled neighborhood as less of a luxury and more of a burden. There is something really nice about and old, dense neighborhood with local coffee shops, grocery stores, restaurants within walking distance. It makes you hate those drive-thru Starbucks and mega-marts even more.

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Riding a bike in the city of New Orleans is much different than in my city. My first impression of a cyclist in the Big Easy was more of a shock, than a familiar comfort. As we were driving back from dinner, our first night, I saw a cyclist queue-jumping and running red lights. It was late, she didn’t have any lights or helmet and she was weaving all over the road. We saw a few cyclist who rode like this, so I started to equate all New Orleans cyclists as scofflaws. As it turns out, everybody is like this in New Orleans—cyclist, drivers AND pedestrians. Transportation was an awkward, clumsy ballet of wrong, where everybody was making up their own rules—but somehow, it all synchronized well.

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I was able to sneak in a few morning rides around town. I even managed to ride down to the French Quarter. I discovered, even riding my slowest, I was still one of the fastest cyclists around. Slow and easy was the pace in New Orleans, and I was ok with that. I was also one of the few wearing a helmet. For a while, I was worried that it would give me away as a tourist, but I think having air in my tires was already doing that (see pic above). In the end I realized that nobody cared about me, my full tires or my helmet head and I was able to enjoy some really nice rides around town. There were also some nice bike lanes, with more on the way, which made the slow pace easier around the not-so-slow traffic. Riding early in the morning helped as well. Overall, if I lived in that area and with parking as bad as it was, I would definitely ride my bike much more often.

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We loved visiting New Orleans. It was good to get a new perspective of an old city. Although the city is known more for it’s tourist attractions, and less about it’s strong neighborhoods communities, I can see how folks are proud to call it home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by dickdavid

December 28, 2015 at 9:40 am

Traffic Skills 101 Classes In Richardson, Texas – September and October 2015

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LAB - Traffic Skills 101 - Allen, Texas 2014

Because my city, Richardson, is such a Bike Friendly Community, I thought it would be great to hold a couple of Traffic Skills 101 classes this fall.

Traffic Skills 101 (TS101) gives cyclists the confidence they need to ride safely and legally in traffic or on the trail. Through TS101, students learn how to conduct bicycle safety checks, fix a flat, on-bike skills and crash avoidance techniques. We recommended this class for adults and children above age fourteen. The curriculum is fast-paced, and prepares cyclists for a full understanding of cycling on Richardson streets.

Traffic Skills 101 Curriculum
Part I: The Basics
• The Bicycle
• Maintenance Basics
• Clothing and Equipment
• Bicycle Handling

Part II: Bicycling in Traffic
• Your Role in Traffic
• Avoiding Crashes
• Hazard Avoidance Maneuvers

Part III: Enjoying the Ride
• Riding Enjoyment
• Ride Etiquette
• Helping Motorists Share the Road

Required to participate in this class:
– Bicycle in good working condition
– Helmet that fits
– Completion of online portion of course – info provided upon registration
– Cash for lunch

There will be 2 classes available:

Option 1:
Date: Saturday, September 12, 2015
Time: 9:00a.m. – 3:30p.m.
Location: Huffhines Recreation Center – 200 N. Plano Rd., Richardson, TX 75081
Cost: $50 

Option 2:
Date: Saturday, October 17, 2015
Time: 9:00a.m. – 3:30p.m.
Location: Heights Recreation Center – 711 W Arapaho Rd., Richardson, TX 75080
Cost: $50

All tuition will be used to cover class expenses. Any remaining funds will be rolled back into the BFR education program.

Go here to register. Sorry. There is no deep link to this class. You’ll need to click on the “Adult” category in the side menu.

Scanning Drills

Written by dickdavid

September 5, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Richardson Texas Gets Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community Status

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It’s no surprise to me, since I ride in this city all the time.

Today, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Richardson, Texas with a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community (BFCSM) award, joining 350 visionary communities from across the country.

With the announcement of 42 new and renewing BFCs today, Richardson joins a leading group of communities, in all 50 states, that are transforming our neighborhoods.

“We applaud this new round of communities for investing in a more sustainable future for the country and a healthier future for their residents and beyond,” said Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists. “The growing number of leaders taking up bicycling as a way of solving many complex community problems is encouraging. We look forward to continuing to work with these communities as we move closer to our mission of creating a bicycle-friendly America for everyone.”

The BFC program is revolutionizing the way communities evaluate their quality of life, sustainability and transportation networks, while allowing them to benchmark their progress toward improving their bicycle-friendliness. With this impressive round, there are now 350 BFCs in all 50 states. The Bronze BFC award recognizes Richardson’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.

This is a big deal in north Texas. Even though many cities in the area – including Fort Worth, Plano and Frisco – have received an Honorable Mention, Richardson is the first north Texas city to be recognized as a Bike Friendly Community. With it’s many bike lanes, growing trail network and interconnecting neighborhoods, this is a well deserved recognition.

There were many other variables involved in earning this status, including a great city management team – encouraged by a city council with a vision to create a great city. Richardson is also growing a strong bike community – supported by local and regional advocates like Bike Friendly Richardson and BikeDFW.

Richardson is just getting started. They’re hoping that Bronze is just a stepping stone to an even better, more robust bike community. They also hope to see that the many great efforts of their neighboring cities get recognized by the League as well.

I hope that this recognition becomes a way to motivate other north Texas cities to work harder to become bike friendly as well. Let’s keep this momentum going.

Bike Lane Collins - Richardson, TX

Owens Trail, Richardson

Bikes May Use Full Lane Sign - Richardson, Texas

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema - Richardson - Bike Parking

Inspired By bibliosk8er's "Richardson Bike Tour April 2013"

Owen's Trail, Just South Of Collins - Richardson, Texas

 

You can find the latest list on the League of American Bicyclists site or click here.

Bike To Work Day Energizer Stations 2015 – Recap And Pics

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Earlier last month was the Bike League’s National Bike To Work Day. For the fourth year, Bike Friendly Richardson, worked with BikeDFW  and  DART to set up a bike commuter Energizer Station at DART‘s Arapaho rail station in Richardson.

Because interest in these stations continues to grow, BikeDFW and DART were able to set up another 9 stations throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area, including Plano, Garland, Irving, Addison, Carrollton, Oak Cliff, and two locations in Downtown Dallas. Unfortunately, May was a really wet month, with record rainfall in our area. Bike To Work Day, was no exception. Reports came back that those stations had less success greeting bicycle commuters than previous years.

The Richardson station was still pretty successful. We had a dozen bike commuters stop by our Energizer Station, where we provided them with snacks and breakfast tacos. We also handed out lots of swag donated by DART and NCTCOG as well as energy bars provided KINDRichardson Bike Mart was out to do bicycle safety checks.

Although it was a lighter turnout than we had hoped, it’s still apparent that folks around the Dallas area are starting to look at bicycle commuting as an viable form of alternate transportation – which most feel is hard to do in a city built for cars. Because of this, we will continue to host these stations on Bike To Work Day – rain or shine.

Here are a few pics from the Richardson event:

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Dallas Area Bike To Work Day Energizer Stations – 2015

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Mark your calendars! Friday, May 15, 2015 is The League of American Cyclists‘ National Bike To Work Day. IF there is ever a day to ride to work, make it this day. Think about the positive statement we’ll be making as cyclists, safely using an alternate form of transportation.

Based on our great success in Richardson 3 years ago, which grew to 5 stations around Dallas 2 years ago, and up to 9 stations last yearBikeDFWDART and local bike groups have partnered up to host another 9 Bike Commuter Energizer Stations around the Dallas/Fort Worth area:

• GARLAND – DART Downtown Garland Station
• DALLAS – DART St. Paul Station
• DALLAS – Young Street (Library Staff)
• OAK CLIFF – DART Oakenwald Street Car Stop
• RICHARDSON – DART Arapaho Station
• PLANO – DART Parker Road Station
• IRVING – TRE South Irving/Heritage Crossing station
• CARROLLTON – DART Trinity Mills Station
• ADDISON – DART Addison Transfer Station

DATE: Friday, May 15, 2015
TIME: 6:30-9:00 am

We will be providing snacks, beverages and FREE bicycle safety checks at most stations.

Let us know you are coming on our Facebook Event Page.

SPONSORS FOR ALL STATIONS:
DART
KIND Snacks

MORE DETAILS TO COME.

The Invisible Cyclist

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Invisible Cyclist

No, I’m not talking about the class of cyclist who, for whatever the reason, HAS to ride their bikes, instead of choosing to ride bikes—those who I feel are usually under-represented by mainstream advocacy efforts. That’s a topic for another post.

Right now, I’m referencing the guy in the picture. I noticed him heading down a pretty major arterial road, while I was taking one of my early morning walks. I know it’s a bad shot, but can you tell what he might be doing poorly? He’s got lights. He’s wearing a helmet. Do you think he is riding safely?

Quite frankly, what he’s doing isn’t enough. As an League Cycling Instructor, I try to lead by example and strive to be the most visible that I can be on the road – at any time of the day. I wish others would do the same.

Let’s start with his lighting. He has head and tail lights, but they were less than substantial and other road users could barely see them. This cyclist seems to have a false sense of security, thinking his rear light is enough. I prefer lights that are much brighter – and in multiples if possible. Along with having good lights, I like to have retroreflective elements. Although retroreflective gear is only as good as their placement, and the lighting that shines on it, every little bit adds up to supplement even the worse tail lights. I have reflective material on my helmet, my ankles, my backpack and on my bike.

Let’s talk about his clothing. It’s been stated that high-vis colors aren’t as effective at night. I’ve noticed that the best time to use those colors is during the early morning or dusk hours. They are also good during inclement weather, when the color spectrum of your environment becomes a dull range of gray. High-vis clothing wouldn’t have helped him too much at this moment, but it also wouldn’t hurt.

Finally, let’s talk about his lane position. In my town, a cyclist has the right to take the full lane, as long as it’s less than 15 feet wide. I know there is a school-of-thought out there, where cyclist feel safer being closer to the curb. They feel it puts them in a better defensive position to get out of the way if danger comes from behind. The problem with taking this position, is that it forces the need to ride defensively. Riding next to the curb reduces the ability for other road users – coming from any direction – to see you from further away. Being a defensive rider, who is mindful of your surrounding is good. However, adding a better, more visible, posture on the road helps give other road users more time to react, which reduces the need for defense.

I also noticed several cars passing this guy in his lane. Being so close to the curb was an invitation for cars to share the lane while they overtook him. Taking the lane reduces this, forcing cars to leave your lane when passing.

Pics And Recap of Richardson’s Trash Bash 2015

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I’m sharing this content from the BFR blog.

Last weekend, the City of Richardson held their annual Trash Bash event, recruiting volunteers and organizations, from all over the city, to help pick up trash and get the city clean. Motivated by the success of our own trail cleanup day, my local advocacy group, Bike Friendly Richardson, stepped up to participate.

We took on the Spring Creak Nature Preserve area, a popular public park located on the southeast side of Renner Road and Central Expressway. The Preserve, with it’s scenic trails, is frequently visited area by cyclists – which made it the obvious location to focus our efforts.

Overall, we had 11 adults and 4 kids show up to help, and we filled about 8-10 bags. It was nice to give back to the city and care for the amenities that make this community so great.

Here are some pics of our volunteers:

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Written by dickdavid

April 22, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Recap and Pics – Cyclists In Suits – Texas Bicycle Lobby Day 2015

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Image © BikeTexas.org – Please visit their site.

Last week, BikeTexas hosted their Cyclists In Suits – Bicycle Lobby Day event at the Texas State Capital in Austin, Texas. This happens every other year, for more years than some of us have been advocates. I think we heard somebody mention that they were on their 9th or 10th visit to the capital.

Each time, cyclists from all over Texas, strip the lycra, wool and skinny jeans, to put on their best dress clothes. Business attire was key to being taken seriously as we represented the cycling community to the Texas State Legislature.

The bills we’re took to legislators were (links will take you to the text of the bills):

The Iris Stagner Safe Passing Act, HB 2459 & SB 1416
Ban on Texting while Driving, HB 80
Safety Light at Night, HB 471
Transportation Safety Advisory Committee, HB 1136
Safe Neighborhood Streets, SB 1717

We also let legislators know that we oppose HB 383, which would require bicycles to be equipped with a mirror as part of a safe passing law.

The group coming from Dallas was a bit smaller this year. Some folks drove down, while others shared a van hosted by BikeDFW.

This year’s event was organized a lot better than previous years. Although it was a shaky start, with a little bit of confusion in the crowd, the lobby teams were better organized so that each person got to visit the office of their own Senator and Representative, as well as the legislative offices near by. This allowed us to optimize our time by not having to run all over the capital building. Most of us were finished by lunch.

After lunch, we headed over to the Senate to hear a special resolution for people who ride bikes – read by bike friendly Senator, Rodney Ellis. From there, we headed over to the front of the Capital building for our group picture.

Once our lobbying was finished, the group headed over to the BikeTexas headquarters for a small wind-down event. It was nice to regroup, visit and talk about the days events and share cycling stories about our hometowns.

If you enjoy cycling and want to make it safer and more acceptable in Texas, this is definitely an event that you should be a part of. I look forward to seeing you there in 2017. Here are a few pics from the event:

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Cyclists In Suits - 2015

Written by dickdavid

April 8, 2015 at 5:58 am

New Cassette + New Chain + Proper Tune-up = Awesome Ride

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Cleaned, Tuned and Awesome

It’s been a while since I took my 23-year old, geared bike in for a tune-up. It was a combination of bad timing, limited funding, do-it-youself pride, embarrassment for putting it off, followed by the morbid fear that it would cost more than a new bike, that kept me from taking it in.

Bad timing, because I don’t give myself much of a down season. I didn’t feel like making the time to be without my bike for too long. Limited funding, because money for my bike is low priority compared to other expenses. Do-it-yourself pride allowed me to fudge my way around basic maintenance and cleaning. This led to my bike getting to an eventual state of serious wear – leaving me too embarrassed to bring it in.

My bike was showing some serious wear in the drivetrain. The chain, gears, shifters and hubs (all original) were really worn and loose – which made the bike hard to pedal. It was a rough ride, at best. I feared the cost of replacing or repairing these things may have been more than the bike was worth.

I decided to bite the bullet and take it in to my local bike shop, Richardson Bike Mart. One of their great mechanics took a quick look and gave me an assessment that took me by surprise. The repair and tune-up was going to cost me far less than I had anticipated. It needed a new cassette and chain, both would cost me about the same as a tank of gas. They said they would look at the hubs, shifter and everything else with the tune-up. If it needed any other new parts, or a more extensive repair, they would let me know. Fortunately, it didn’t.

When I got my bike back, I was blown away with how great it looked. That was nothing compared to how great it rode. The new cassette, chain and proper tune-up turned my old clunker into a sweet ride, and I truly enjoy riding it again.

If you’ve been putting off a good bike tune-up, I strongly recommend not being like me and waiting so long. Get it tuned-up now! Life is too short to ride a poorly adjusted bike. If you can’t tool on it, yourself, take it in to your favorite local bike shop. They can take care of you, and you’ll be putting money back into your local economy.

New Chain and Cassette

Old, Worn Out, Parts

I’m So Done With Winter Riding

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Ice Bike

I know that I really can’t complain. Riding my bike during the winter in north Texas is nothing compared to riding up north. It still sucks.

The cold is one thing, but when you throw in winter rain and the occasional ice and snow storm, riding becomes a real chore. I hear the phrase, “There’s no such thing as bad weather just inappropriate clothing.” all the time. I just wish it were that easy. I do follow the rules of layering and dressing for the last mile, which really helps.

I also feel, having the right bike – or the right bike setup – is also key. At least, get a good set of fenders.

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I’m so glad, spring is here and riding is much more pleasant. Bring on the summer.

Written by dickdavid

March 28, 2015 at 8:00 pm